Background and purpose: The brain stem in patients with periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) appears smaller than normal on MR imaging, but few reports have described this feature, and the number of patients has been relatively small. The present study was conducted to examine the hypothesis that the pons in patients with PVL is smaller than normal.
Materials and methods: Using MR imaging, we examined 80 children (43 boys and 37 girls) with PVL and 80 age-matched control children (41 boys and 39 girls). The control children were diagnosed as neurologically and developmentally normal by pediatric neurologists and also showed normal MR imaging findings. MR imaging was performed at a corrected age range of 0-5 years in both groups. We measured the anteroposterior diameter of the whole pons, the tegmentum and the basis, and the corpus callosal length by using midline T1-weighted sagittal images and compared each parameter between the PVL groups and the control groups.
Results: Pontine diameters in all of the regions were significantly smaller in the PVL group than in the control group (mean +/- SD, whole pontine diameters, 1.66 +/- 0.21 and 1.87 +/- 0.23 cm [P < .001]; basis diameters, 0.42 +/- 0.10 and 0.51 +/- 0.14 [P < .001]; tegmentum diameters, 1.23 +/- 0.20 and 1.36 +/- 0.19 [P < .001], respectively). The respective corpus callosal lengths were 5.02 +/- 0.90 and 5.51 +/- 0.76 (P < .001). There was no significant difference in the basis/tegmentum ratio between the PVL group and the control group. When the age-related pontine diameter differences were examined, there was already a significant difference at 0 years of age between the 2 groups. There was a significant correlation between whole pontine diameter and corpus callosal length in the PVL group (correlation coefficient, 0.52; P < .001) and the control group (correlation coefficient, 0.63; P < .001).
Conclusion: We have proven that pontine diameter in patients with PVL is significantly smaller than that in normal control subjects, including each diameter of basis and tegmentum.